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Thread: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/sp...l/06cards.html

    By RICHARD SANDOMIR
    Published: August 5, 2009

    The Topps Company will become the exclusive trading card maker of Major League Baseball next year in a multiyear deal that appears to seriously hurt Upper Deck, its primary competitor in the once-vibrant business.

    By dropping Upper Deck, M.L.B. hopes that Topps, under Michael D. Eisner, the former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, can invigorate card collecting, especially with young fans. The league also believes that one cardmaker can end the confusion of competitors selling multiple card series in hobby shops and big-box stores.

    “This is redirecting the entire category toward kids,” said Eisner, who acquired the company in 2007. “Topps has been making cards for 60 years, the last 30 in a nonexclusive world that has caused confusion to the kid who walks into a Wal-Mart or a hobby store. It’s also been difficult to promote cards as unique and original.”

    Upper Deck refused to address the Topps deal, which is to be announced Thursday. A spokesman for Upper Deck, based in Carlsbad, Calif., said only that it renewed its trading card license with the Major League Baseball Players Association last month and would keep producing cards. While the union license gives Upper Deck the right to use player likenesses, it will no longer have the rights to team logos and trademarks.

    The union did not respond to requests for comment.

    The old-line Topps, with roots in Brooklyn and its headquarters in downtown Manhattan, is associated with the stiff stick of chewing gum that once appeared in each pack. It is historically linked to children trading and flipping cards, and to the clatter created by inserting the little pieces of cardboard in the spokes of bicycle wheels.

    In the 1980s, as collecting cards for fun turned into the more adult pursuit of investing in cards for profit, Topps faced a corps of rivals like Fleer, Donruss, Leaf, Score and, most significantly, the innovative Upper Deck.

    Now, baseball has decided it needs only Topps.

    “There is a greater chance of organizing the marketplace with a singular partner,” said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business at Major League Baseball. “It’s a business that’s critically important to our mission, to make players icons to kids.”

    The business has shrunk drastically since the mid-1990s. T. S. O’Connell, the editor of Sports Collectors Digest, estimated that it was one-fifth the size it was before the 1994-95 players strike.

    “As draconian as it sounds,” to give Topps the exclusive license, O’Connell said, “there could be pluses to it. I’m not wishing Upper Deck out of the picture, but it’s difficult for the market to support the significant number of cards that are produced every year. You could see some stability coming out of this.”

    Since Eisner’s privately held Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn, a private equity company, acquired Topps, it has introduced 3-D cards, the ToppsTown trading and collecting Web site, and the Topps Attax game to appeal to young card enthusiasts and to develop new ones.

    “We’re going to be very aggressive in letting retailers, kids and hobbyists know that we are the card that represents it all,” Eisner said.

    Making Topps the official trading card of baseball follows M.L.B.’s business model. It has, for example, an official car (Chevrolet), credit card (MasterCard), soft drink (Pepsi) and cap (New Era). For that reason, Brosnan said, baseball does not believe there are antitrust implications in entering a similar deal with Topps.

    Typically, an exclusive license is more expensive to the company than a nonexclusive arrangement.

    Brosnan said that a recent federal court decision that backed the N.F.L.’s right to make Reebok its exclusive headwear sponsor affirmed baseball’s policy.

    The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the case from American Needle Inc.

    Eisner said that Topps’s successful deals as the exclusive soccer cardmaker of the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga had proved that cards could appeal to fans 8 to 13 years old.

    “They’re buying them, trading them, the way I did when I was a kid,” said Eisner, a New York Giants baseball fan, who says that, like many men of his generation (he is 67), his mother threw out his collection.

    Dennis Gordon, who owns the Baseball Shop in Orleans, Mass., said he was confident that Eisner could alter what he called the “stale” market with the exclusive Topps deal.

    “Michael Eisner alone might make it more interesting for kids,” he said. “If he and his people can come up with a new-wave idea, go for it.”
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    So Long Uncle Joe BoydsOfSummer's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    The kids may have been priced out by the high end stuff, but they were not confused. So now you'll get 100 Topps products instead of 50 of each. It's for the children <yank..yank>.
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    It wasn't Topps vs. Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, etc. that got me confused. It was the 15 different lines of cards from each of them. Just give me one set of cards with a handful of specials such as Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies and I'll be in heaven again.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    It wasn't Topps vs. Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, etc. that got me confused. It was the 15 different lines of cards from each of them. Just give me one set of cards with a handful of specials such as Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies and I'll be in heaven again.
    Yep....they did this to themselves. Flooded the market with a bunch of garbage and they killed it.
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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    I liked the options. It made it cheap to buy autographs of just about anyone. That made it good for me.

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    Baseball card addict MrCinatit's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    In my opinion, Topps' set paled big time to Upper Deck's set. Terrible move, but MLB has never been known for going down the path of wisdom.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    It wasn't Topps vs. Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, etc. that got me confused. It was the 15 different lines of cards from each of them. Just give me one set of cards with a handful of specials such as Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies and I'll be in heaven again.
    My nephews were in town a few weeks ago and they are really into card collecting. We went to Target to pick up some packs, not the best place but the timing was the best. We walked to Target's card section and I was at a loss. So many different types of packs, prices, rookie this, insert that. Its a shame card collecting has gotten to that point. It has really put off young kids from collecting cards.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    My kids love looking at my old baseball cards. They have zero desire to collect their own because they're confused by why they have to pay $25 for one and then they can't even touch it.

    Shockingly, they've got better things to spend their birthday money on-like fun things.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    What would happen if Upper Deck was able to get an exclusive deal with the union by re-negotiating? I guess Topps might already have a deal, but maybe Upper Deck will try to work that angle - let Topps show pictures of uniforms and logos while UD shows the players.

    I no longer collect so it does not affect me, but this seems kind of silly to me.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    This is, unfortunately, just the way it is now. I'm a long time collector and hate the "for the kids" argument. I also hate the "it's too expensive" comment. Brands like Score and Victory are less than a dollar per pack and great for set building. Kids were never the intended audience for high end products.

    Here are the 2010 licenses by sport:

    Baseball: Topps.
    Hockey: Upper Deck.
    Basketball: Panini.
    Football: Topps, UD, Panini.

    Except for football we will have exclusives in each sport. Upper Deck has done a fabulous job with hockey, I hope Topps does the same with baseball but won't hold my breath...competition is good.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    One set of cards, produced in 6 to 7 series throughout the spring and summer. Plain cardboard like the older cards for 75 cents to a dollar a pack. There's an idea.
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    One set of cards, produced in 6 to 7 series throughout the spring and summer. Plain cardboard like the older cards for 75 cents to a dollar a pack. There's an idea.
    The thing is, every company already makes sets like that. I can buy a 36 pack box of Victory Hockey for around $20...it doesn't get much cheaper than that. Topps and UD have both been releasing their basic set in series again for several years now. The inserts/autos/GU do nothing to hurt the hobby. Kids don't have to collect them if they don't want to, but as an adult I love them--and my friend who is a dealer would be dead without them.

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    Moderator RedlegJake's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    I'm an old timer in my attitude toward ballcards. Seriously I still hark back to the days when Topps was the only major company (there have always been small sets and local issues by small companies and premiums producers) and they didn't even produce complete sets for sale. You had to buy pack after pack to build a set - and even then the packs were released in series, so you could only get certain players in the spring, then more in mid summer and finally the balance at the end of the year (and why larger numbers are often the rarest cards in early sets).

    They smelled like gum and though it tasted like crap I loved that cardboardish sugary flavor. I loved the Reds so much I'd trade a Willie Mays for a Gerry Arrigo. No thought whatever of monetary value - it was completely driven by team loyalty and player popularity. None of us had sleeves or vinyl sheets or hardcases, either. If the hip pocket of my jeans didn't protect them, oh well. I had a shoe box at first, slid under the bed and stacked full of cards, then two shoeboxes, and as I got a bit older I made team seperators of cardboard and taped team logos to the top that I cut from cards I had doubles of.

    Ragged edge Kahn's wiener cards and cards torn from Post cereal boxes (who in heaven would ever have thought of keeping the whole dang box?) were mixed in with cards that ranged from the 50s to the 60s. The old cliche about "Mom threw away enough cards to fund a college education" is true for so many of us old timers. As I got into my teen age years I did realize the value of Mantles and Mays and Musial cards - not monetary, though, but driven by the greatness of the player. At some point in there, all big leaguers ceased to be equal in my eyes and the old counting stats on card backs began to seperate the wheat and chaff in my mind. Some guys were golden grain, some were just dust. There weren't even any whispers yet about "Rookie cards" or inserts or autographed cards inside packs. Autographed cards then were treasures earned by leaning over rails and begging players to sign or waiting outside the players entrance hoping to get an auto before security ran you off.

    Then I got older and peer pressure made me slide the boxed trove deeper under the bed, out of sight. Cards were for kids, my friends would sniff. They were so - Cub scoutish. Vietnam Protests and Civil rights riots, Woodstock and Hippies, the first raucous notes of hard rock - the music that dropped the "and roll" from the end: the world became a huge place suddenly - teens then emerged from familial cocoons into the wide world almost overnight. You see there were very, very few outside influences as yet that could intrude into a family's home and reach children with sexual overtures, drug references, scenes of realistic violence. Everything on TV was still sanitized and parents had little trouble sheltering kids. The underbelly of the grown up world exploded into our lives suddenly and ball cards just seemed juvenile to us.

    Then came the Marine Corps and my ball cards were tucked up on a closet shelf. What year the spring cleaning jag occurred when Mom tossed them as unneeded vestiges of my childhood, I don't know but probably just after the Watergate scandal exploded. Watergate has dimmed in my memory, and I dismiss it with a shrug as just another politician getting caught but the loss of those cards? That, my friends, is still a huge scandal. I loved my mother dearly, with all my heart, but that's the one resentment that may yet still linger. Why Mom? You kept the old grade cards, the photos of me with wet pants clutching a teddy bear and of me nekkid in the tub, how much more space could those shoeboxes have taken up?
    Alas, no mas, Art Shamsky and his glorious '67 card!

    I've bought a few cards since, mostly '67 Topps. For some reason the smell of those rectangles of gum stained cardboard release the floodgates of memory for me. So, my friends, if you're ever at a card show and you see a tall, lean gentleman with rather a pot belly and balding head, leaning over the cases and sniffing at a dealer's '67 cards, walk up and introduce yourself as a member of the 'Zone. That'd be me.
    Last edited by RedlegJake; 08-06-2009 at 01:09 PM.

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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by RedlegJake View Post
    I'm an old timer in my attitude toward ballcards. Seriously I still hark back to the days when Topps was the only major company (there have always been small sets and local issues by small companies and premiums producers) and they didn't even produce complete sets for sale. You had to buy pack after pack to build a set - and even then the packs were released in series, so you could only get certain players in the spring, then more in mid summer and finally the balance at the end of the year (and why larger numbers are often the rarest cards in early sets).

    They smelled like gum and though it tasted like crap I loved that cardboardish sugary flavor. I loved the Reds so much I'd trade a Willie Mays for a Gerry Arrigo. No thought whatever of monetary value - it was completely driven by team loyalty and player popularity. None of us had sleeves or vinyl sheets or hardcases, either. If the hip pocket of my jeans didn't protect them, oh well. I had a shoe box at first, slid under the bed and stacked full of cards, then two shoeboxes, and as I got a bit older I made team seperators of cardboard and taped team logos to the top that I cut from cards I had doubles of.

    Ragged edge Kahn's wiener cards and cards torn from Post cereal boxes (who in heaven would ever have thought of keeping the whole dang box?) were mixed in with cards that ranged from the 50s to the 60s. The old cliche about "Mom threw away enough cards to fund a college education" is true for so many of us old timers. As I got into my teen age years I did realize the value of Mantles and Mays and Musial cards - not monetary, though, but driven by the greatness of the player. At some point in there, all big leaguers ceased to be equal in my eyes and the old counting stats on card backs began to seperate the wheat and chaff in my mind. Some guys were golden grain, some were just dust. There weren't even any whispers yet about "Rookie cards" or inserts or autographed cards inside packs. Autographed cards then were treasures earned by leaning over rails and begging players to sign or waiting outside the players entrance hoping to get an auto before security ran you off.

    Then I got older and peer pressure made me slide the boxed trove deeper under the bed, out of sight. Cards were for kids, my friends would sniff. They were so - Cub scoutish. Vietnam Protests and Civil rights riots, Woodstock and Hippies, the first raucous notes of hard rock - the music that dropped the "and roll" from the end: the world became a huge place suddenly - teens then emerged from familial cocoons into the wide world almost overnight. You see there were very, very few outside influences as yet that could intrude into a family's home and reach children with sexual overtures, drug references, scenes of realistic violence. Everything on TV was still sanitized and parents had little trouble sheltering kids. The underbelly of the grown up world exploded into our lives suddenly and ball cards just seemed juvenile to us.

    Then came the Marine Corps and my ball cards were tucked up on a closet shelf. What year the spring cleaning jag occurred when Mom tossed them as unneeded vestiges of my childhood, I don't know but probably just after the Watergate scandal exploded. Watergate has dimmed in my memory, and I dismiss it with a shrug as just another politician getting caught but the loss of those cards? That, my friends, is still a huge scandal. I loved my mother dearly, with all my heart, but that's the one resentment that may yet still linger. Why Mom? You kept the old grade cards, the photos of me with wet pants clutching a teddy bear and of me nekkid in the tub, how much more space could those shoeboxes have taken up?
    Alas, no mas, Art Shamsky and his glorious '67 card!

    I've bought a few cards since, mostly '67 Topps. For some reason the smell of those rectangles of gum stained cardboard release the floodgates of memory for me. So, my friends, if you're ever at a card show and you see a tall, lean gentleman with rather a pot belly and balding head, leaning over the cases and sniffing at a dealer's '67 cards, walk up and introduce yourself as a member of the 'Zone. That'd be me.
    Great post. You owe it to yourself to try out Topps Heritage. They pack it with gum and the design is based on a different vintage set each year. This year is 1960 and it is a monster to try to put together--but it has brought back old school trading for a lot of my friends!

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    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Gives Topps an Exclusive Deal Starting in 2010

    If you guys will oblige me, I will repeat a post I made in July 2005 on this subject. It was in this thread:

    Baseball Cards In A Slump: Sales down 80 percent since 1991 (Fleer out of business)

    I stopped collecting baseball cards after my senior year of high school in 1983. I had bought them one-pack-at-a-time from 1973-1977 before discovering that you could mail order the entire set at once in 1978. From '78-'83, my interest waned considerably, but I still sent off for the Topps set each spring until 1983. It was then that I began to look forward to college, and sought to put the things of my childhood to rest.

    In the spring of 1989, for whatever reason, I was looking through some of those old cards when I came across the 1979 (I think) Topps set, still in the box, with a note scribbled on a piece of paper lying on the top. That note indicated that the Bump Wills card was missing from the set.

    As part of the baseball card boom of the late 80s, a baseball card shop had sprung up in my town, just as they had all over the country. Hoping to make things right with that card set, I wandered into that shop seeking a Bump Wills card. As I waited for the shopkeeper to dig the card out of his commons bin, I begain to browse the store, and in a matter of minutes, I got myself caught up in the baseball card frenzy that caught up so many fans and collectors in the late 80s and early 90s.

    In the months that followed, I visited that store (and many others) countless times, seeking to complete those sets from 1972-1977. I went back and bought all the Topps sets from 1984-1989, just so I'd have the complete run. It was fun, and I spend a lot of money – much more than I should have.

    But it was also at that time that I noticed that the hobby had become something that it was never meant to be. Not all baseball card dealers and collectors were baseball fans. I doubt some of them had ever even sat down and watched a game. They were into it for one reason and one reason only: the money. It was this love of financial gain, rather than a passion for the game, that was driving people to buy up 100 or more of the same exact card, in the hopes that it would someday be worth as much as a Mickey Mantle rookie card was worth at that time. It was that love of financial gain that made people buy boxes and boxes of cards, only to stuff them away in a closet without ever breaking the seal. Is that what these things were for? Were they meant to never be touched by human hands, never seen by human eyes?

    As much as I disliked what the hobby had become, I finally relented and got caught up in the investment frenzy, although to a lesser extent than the majority of collectors. I have four sets of 1989 Fleer Factory sets in a closet that I paid $25 apiece for in the summer of 1989. Those had the Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card in them, and were sure to be worth hundreds of dollars as the years passed. To this day, the cellophane wrap has never been broken on any of the four. I checked this set on ebay yesterday and found that it sells for less than $10, and that’s in the unopened condition that mine are in. Fortunately, I’m better off than a guy I knew at that time, who sunk several thousand dollars into unopened sets, boxes, and cases, only to discover that they can now be had on ebay for pennies on the 1990 dollar.

    I continued to buy cards and collect until 1991. It was about that time that things got really crazy and out-of-hand. Not only were there several brands of cards, there were several sets and issues within each brand. This made the hobby very confusing as far as I was concerned, and I finally abandoned it out of frustration. Things only got worse as the years passed. I think I read a few years ago that there were something like 125 different cards issued of Ichiro during his rookie season. That’s a far cry from 1975, when there was one primary card issued of each player, it was issued by Topps, and the only way to get one was to fork over your lawn mowing money for as many packs as you could afford and hope for the best. I’ve rambled on-and-on these past few minutes to set up the following article about the demise of the baseball card industry. (I had intended for this to be a one- or two-paragraph intro to the article, but couldn’t stop once I started reminiscing. ) Anyway, I'm sure there are many whose story is very similar to mine. Did the card companies cater too much to the investor mindset and shoot themselves in the foot in the process? I think they did, and I think their bag of tricks (sliced up game-used bats, jerseys, etc. inserted into the cards, etc.) is about empty. Perhaps now the industry can and will get back to what it originally was? Or perhaps, in this age of the Internet and instantly-available and instantly-updated statistics, the baseball card industry may become completely obsolete?

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/b...ness-headlines


    Baseball cards in a slump

    Card collecting has waned in popularity, with sales sliding nearly 80 percent since their peak in 1991.

    By Justin Fenton
    Sun Staff

    Originally published July 15, 2005


    The crash of the American baseball card industry became official yesterday in a lawyer's office in New Jersey.

    Twenty-five years after breaking the Topps Co. Inc.'s monopoly on the industry, Fleer Corp. - bankrupt and $33 million in debt to a list of creditors, including $12,800 to Cal Ripken Jr. - was expected to be sold at auction last night, the most visible casualty of a pastime that has suffered sharp declines and a significant demographic shift over the past decade.

    What was once a hobby for boys, who stuck cards in the spokes of their bikes or flipped them on neighborhood playgrounds, has become an exclusive marketplace for adults. Grownups are swapping high-priced cards that contain everything from holograms to pieces of autographed bats, jerseys and balls - a far cry from the cardboard bubble-gum packs of the past.

    This year, sales of new cards, of which baseball remains the principal sport, will reach $260 million, according to Scott Kelnhofer, editor of Card Trade, an industry trade journal. That's down 35 percent since 1999, and nearly 80 percent off its $1.2 billion peak in 1991.

    Despite a potential record-setting year in attendance, Major League Baseball and the Players Association see the pricing out of a generation of young fans who have nothing but their weekly allowances to spend, and there are plans to announce in the next few months - possibly the next few days - a scaling back of product lines in an effort to stabilize the market.

    Jordan Stern of Havre de Grace remembers walking to the corner store 40 years ago as a child to buy a 50-cent pack of cards. But most packs now cost about $4, and some are as much as $20, $50, $100 and even $500. "Kids just can't participate in this hobby anymore," said Stern, 46, who owned a Bel Air card store for 16 years. "They're priced right out of the market now."

    The collapse of the market has made those corner stores harder to find for young fans such as Jordan Brody, a 10-year-old receiving hitting instruction at the Rich Jenkins Baseball Camp in Ellicott City.

    "I would collect them, but I don't know where to get them," he said. "The places near us, they don't sell them anymore."

    Area card stores have been closing or sharply cutting back hours, and Internet auction sites such as eBay have provided less costly channels to peddle merchandise.

    Sports trading cards became hot in the late 1980s, as older generations of fans dusted off their childhood collections and revisited hobby shops, suddenly making thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, a new generation started their own collections, figuring they, too, could someday make mini-fortunes if they took better care of the cards than their fathers did.

    The card industry took notice and began mass producing. More than a dozen new companies entered the marketplace, and card shops sprouted up around the country. Mike Tanner said four new stores opened within a quarter-mile of his Eastern Avenue store, the Baseball Card Outlet. And at discount stores such as Kmart, fans snapped up cheap boxes of baseball cards that were stacked 6-feet-high in aisles.

    The backlash of that prosperity has seen the demise of most of the startup companies. But yesterday's liquidation of Fleer gives the decline a sense of finality, according to those in the card industry. There are just three companies left: Donruss Playoff LP of Texas, the Upper Deck Co. of California and New York-based Topps.

    Meanwhile, cards from the 1980s and '90s, preserved in plastic cases and binders under collectors' beds, are worth next to nothing, according to some card vendors.

    "You can bring someone a binder of those cards and they wouldn't touch them," Stern said. "There were so many of those cards produced, and there's millions around."

    The market is largely driven by older collectors' thirst for memorabilia, Kelnhofer said. The high-priced packs guarantee players' autographs or dime-sized slices of bats, jerseys and stadium seats, built into the cards. The companies pay fees to current and retired athletes for signatures and jerseys, which can be sliced up and packaged into 1,000 cards.

    Meanwhile, younger children have gravitated towards fantasy card games such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, while teens spend their time playing video games - a $7.3 billion industry, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.

    Annapolis resident Chris Smith, 34, remembers collecting baseball cards as a child for two reasons: the Orioles and the gum.

    Like many young collectors, Smith set a goal of getting all the cards of his favorite player and building team sets, something that's virtually impossible today. According to the Beckett Price Guide, five different kinds of Ripken cards were produced in 1986, which could be purchased today for $20.

    These days, collectors such as 12-year-old Jake Weyer would have to do more than mow his family's lawn to raise enough money to buy all of the 50 different cards that the retired shortstop appears on in 2005; Beckett lists the Ironman's 2005 cards as being worth a total of $3,840, ranging from $6 to $300 each.

    In court papers, Fleer Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Chris Tobia said the major leagues and the players association have recently discussed limiting the number of licenses and products, and card makers say upcoming measures will attempt to rein in the industry.

    "Collectors are understanding [that] too much of anything is not a good deal," said Rich Klein, an analyst for Beckett.

    To achieve those limits, the majors and the players association would first have to scale back licensing fees, said Jim Barrett, an analyst for C.L. King & Associates who follows Topps, the only publicly traded sports card manufacturer. Card companies have been paying retired and current athletes for memorabilia, and they have been selling high-priced products to meet quotas still on the level of the 1990s boom.

    "If you have a big royalty payment to make to Major League Baseball and the Players Association, you're not going to sacrifice yourself and make less cards, sell less cards because you want to altruistically build the category," said Barrett.

    Topps recently reported a 78 percent decline in profits for its first fiscal quarter, blamed primarily on the sales of sports cards. Rumors are swirling that the company could be sold to a larger confectionary business.

    Spokesman Clay Luraschi said Topps is aware of the need to keep children engaged in collecting, and companies have taken strides to keep the hobby accessible. Topps offers four different kinds of cards between $0.99 and $1.99 a pack. An Upper Deck official said his company sponsors weekly card wrapper redemptions for Little League baseball equipment and trips to meet sports stars.

    "We look to build lifelong collectors," Topps' Luraschi said. "It goes hand in hand with the game and is one of the many facets that makes the game so special."

    Help stamp out, eliminate, and do away with redundancy.


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